Gulshan Khan

Independent Photographer, Writer, Artist
The things we carry with us
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality: South African
Biography: Gulshan Khan is a South African photojournalist and visual artist. Her work traverses the multiple layers of identity, humanity, memory, transition, belonging; justice and the dignity of people. She is inspired by the concept of healing through... MORE
Public Story
The things we carry with us
Copyright Gulshan Khan 2023
Date of Work Jun 2016 - Ongoing
Updated May 2019
Location South Africa
Topics Diaspora, Documentary, Islam, Migration, Photography, Photojournalism, Religion

The Things We Carry With Us

Faith is something that we carry with us, even when we cannot carry anything else    

This ongoing personal project is the beginning of a documentation of South African muslims, a community to which I owe my heritage. It is a journey to present the viewpoint of a people, especially the women, whose experiences and presences were, and are still, not always visible, by portraying the prayer, the seeking, and the hope, which is profound and shared by all. It is a community, like many, that has experienced apartheid and the legacy of colonialism, with limited visual documentation of those who were not part of the dominant race, culture or narrative, and so we did not see ourselves in the histories that we were taught. With this work, I hope to create something that generations to come can look upon as a source of history, memory and resonance. 
Islam was brought to Southern Africa on a slave ship bound for the seaside city of Cape Town, the first Qur’an being ‘carried’ and written entirely from memory.

Quickly Islam became a rallying point, building solidarity amongst slaves, political prisoners and communities at the Cape. While allowed, the religion was still practiced with difficulty as muslims suffered from the oppressions of colonialism, slavery, white minority rule and the apartheid regime. Since then, and with recent global geo-politics, forced and voluntary migrations, it has flourished with every Muslim person who came to South Africa, on journeys of heartache or fear, sometimes excitement; holding onto prayers. 

There is something to be said about this intangible phenomenon and the threads which bind us together.
Faith is one of these threads that reach from the depths of the soul to the frontiers of the physical, the individual to the communal. Faith lengthens and transcends borders and is a force which keeps people together, (re)creates and shapes communities as they attempt to re-establish home in a new place. 

It has many influences and diverse ways of cultural practice and accents. The practices are often a replication of origins or an amalgamation of a home left behind and a new land that sometimes dictates an adjusted way of observance and worship.
South Africa is a developing country and it has become a haven or a last hope for those who have chosen to leave or who have lost their homes; for many, prayer and observance, together and in solitude, becomes the embodiment of connectedness, rootedness and reminiscence.

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The things we carry with us by Gulshan Khan
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